Thursday, June 7, 2007

"significant change of circumstance" - letter to Chief Justice Diane Bryant

07 June 2007
Chief Justice Diane Bryant
Family Court of Australia

c/o Meg ForemanClient Feedback Coordinator &Administrative Law Consultant

(Dear Meg, please forward this message directly to Chief Justice Diana Bryant. As I am sure you realise, this is not about a particular case, but concerns policy and practice of the Family Court of Australia as a whole).

Dear Chief Justice Diane Bryant,
I would like to commend the Family Court of Australia for taking the unusual step of reopening the case of Samuels and Errington whereby the child will be returned from the mother in Perth to the care of the grandparents in Hobart, even though there has been no appeal process.

I would hope that in the event that the mother chose to relocate to Hobart without her partner Mr B., that she should have the option of 50/50 residency.

I interpret the reopening of this case as a recognition of inappropriate decisions made by the Family Court of Australia, where there has been a bias toward granting full or majority residence to the mother.

I suggest that the Family Court of Australia has been making inappropriate decisions in a significant number of cases, and still continues to do so, alienating one parent, usually the father, to the detriment and against the best interests of the child, for the last three decades.

I suggest therefore, that this previous (and current) bias in favour of the mother be redressed by giving an opportunity for cases to be reconsidered in the context of the new legislation. To disallow this would, in my view, be immoral.

To think that a judge can determine orders that then become immutable until a child reaches 18yrs unless there is a "significant change of circumstances" is truly outrageous. It is my understanding that Justice Faulk has indicated that there needs to be an opportunity to revisit cases even with "Final Orders" in place, even though the current (ill-defined) and extreme "significant change of circumstances" may not apply.

Cases could be reconsidered by a parent presenting a one of two page set of reasons to a Family Court judge, and where that judge feels there are no complicating circumstances, the parent could then have the matter heard in a Family Relationship Centre (and pay the full cost of the mediation, unless they can demonstrate financial hardship). And where the other parent cannot agree to equal residency (or to what the applicant parent is asking up to 50%), or come to some agreement, then the matter would go before the judge (12A Hearing ? Judge speaks directly to the parents etc ?) who must then consider the child spending equal time with each parent as described in Section 65DAA.

At the Family Relationship Centre (FRC), the parent with majority residency should be informed that since the judge has allowed the matter to be heard, there is a good chance they will award equal parenting time (or whatever has been asked), and that if both parents cannot agree in the FRC, the parent with majority residency may be liable for court costs.

Thankyou for your time in considering this matter.

I would appreciate an acknowledgement that you have actually received this e-mail.

Geoff Holland

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